Afghan football players. (Photo: Ghayor Waziri)

Afghan football players. (Photo: Ghayor Waziri)

Afghanistan disappeared off the global football stage for 17 years.

In Afghanistan under the Taliban government, all sports were banned.

Ghazi Stadium, where young Afghans once played football, was used for public executions.

Now Afghanistan has its own football league and is trying to qualify for the next World Cup in 2018.

Afghanistan played its last international match in 1984- it lost a 6-1 to Jordan and then didn’t play again till 17 years later

National team player Mahmood Ayaz explains why.

“The Afghan Football team was completely demolished after 1984 and even we had lost hopes having a good football team. A soviet occupation, war and Taliban were the main reasons. I was living as a refugees at watch Afghanistan’s first international game again in 2002 against South Korea in Korea. Although we didn’t win it raise our hopes and make me enthusiast about the future of football,” Mahmood said.

Muhammad Hashimi played with the team in their two World cup qualifying games in June against Syria and Cambodia.

Due to the security reasons their match against Syria was held in Iran. They lost again Syria but beat Cambodia.  

Muhammad Hashimi says international games are very important for them.

“We did not play well in our earlier matches. War and conflicts in our country have affected our performances. But our players are trying hard to learn new techniques and improve their games. I am sure we will be the champion of the western Asia states,” he said.

Afghans are passionate about football.

In every park in Kabul you will find children playing football.

22 years old university student Suhrab Nawa feels proud of his national team.

“I proud on them, especially when more than 60 thousand of Cambodian fans encouraged their team and our team was guest in their ground but we could win the match, I am really happy,” Suhrab said.  

The team has hired a international coach German-Bosnia Slaven Skeledzic.

Team manager Mustafa Meherzad says he has helped the team significantly.

“Our football team has a talented Coach. Recent friendly matches against Laos and Bangladesh … have proved that Afghan team Coach Mr. Slaven Skeledzic had taught good techniques to players.”

Their next match will be against Japan next month.  

“Japan Football team is one of the top of world Football teams, it will not be an easy to beat Japan but if Afghan player would learn from their short comings from the last two matches World Cup qualifier matches and could over the short comings then we can play good match against Japan and can win,” Mustafa said.  

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